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Literature / Count to the Eschaton
aka: Count To A Trillion

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The Count to the Eschaton series is a six-volume hard science fiction/Space Opera series by John C. Wright.

Menelaus Ilation "Meany" Montrose, a Texas-born gunslinger, lawyer, mathematician, and astronaut, goes insane after injecting himself with an IQ-increasing Super Serum, and is cryosuspended during the voyage to the Monument. He wakes to a Bad Future. In little more than 8,000 years, the alien beings who set up the Monument as bait to test younger civilizations' starfaring progress, will arrive and enslave the Earth's population. Resisted by the remaining members of the crew—particularly his former best friend, Ximen "Blackie" Del Azarchel—Menelaus decides to spend the intervening millennia preparing humankind to resist.


Books in the series:

  • Count to a Trillion
  • The Hermetic Millennia
  • The Judge of Ages
  • The Architect of Aeons
  • The Vindication of Man
  • Count to Infinity

Tropes featured:

  • Abusing the Kardashev Scale for Fun and Profit: The series divides scales into amount of processing power instead of just energy. Thus a late stage sophos-form planetoid and planet, such as Moon and Earth are at the mid range of KI (Potentate). Fully sophos-formed Jupiter is the upper end of KI (Power). Dyson Sphere is on the mid range KII (Principality) — Ain from The Vindication of Man. Hyades Cluster is a stellar clusters of thinking matters and upper end of KII (Domination). M3 Globular Cluster in Canes Venatici Globular Cluster (Authority) is in KII+. KIII singular galaxy sophant (Throne) — The Maiden of Andromeda Galaxy. KIII+ Galaxy Cluster Group (Cherubim) — Virgo Cluster. KIV Supercluster (Seraphim) — Corona Borealis. The KV artifact Eschaton Directional Engine — multiple Seraphim builds it to determine the final fate of the universe, Heat Death or Big Rip.
  • Ancestral Weapon: Some of the Chimera's weapons have to become this, because they have lost the art of changing the bloodlocks on them.
  • Arc Words: "Count to a trillion" is one, the length of time it will take for Rania's starship to return to earth; as is, possibly, "asymptote.", "Is my time yet come? Is my bride yet here?"
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Menelaus watches this trope in action. He doesn't approve.
  • Big Dumb Object: In the final novel Count to Infinity, our hero found the 'Eschaton Directional Engine' build by multiple ancient Super Clusters Intelligence. It's Wright's version of Real Life "Great Attractor". The purpose of Eschaton Directional Engine is to determine the fate of the universe of either Heat Death or Big Rip. It will either bend spacetime positively, into a sphere, or negatively, into a potato-chip shape.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: Just before meeting princess Rania in volume one, Menelaus attends a new year celebration where the attendants shout in Dutch: "De God redt de koningin!" While gramatically correct, this is something a native speaker of Dutch would never say. It's obviously intended to be a translation of "God save the queen", but what it actually means is "The God is rescuing the queen" (As in, God is rescuing the queen right now). Also, "de" is a definite article, which just like in English one would omit when referring to the monotheistic god.
  • Brain in a Jar: Explicitly shows up in Architect Of Aeons. Menelaus is stuck on the sidelines, of a Duel to the Death that he set up, where one of the participants is a "whale-sized" Transhuman (and the other uses Jupiter as a computer's CPU). Due to events, the Transhuman ends up dying in a messy way, while dropping a 'trinket': Menelaus' original brain kept for sentimental reasons.
  • Broad Strokes: Some cultures' versions of past history are... strange. The Witches, for example, believe that C. S. Lewis and Arthur C. Clarke explored the Louisiana Territory in 1492...
  • Brother–Sister Incest: In the nymphs' language, the word "brother" also means "homosexual incestous partner".
  • The Captain: Princess Rania commands the world's only functioning starship.
  • Christianity Is Catholic: Justified. Blackie del Azarchel suppressed all religions other than Catholicism because he himself was culturally Catholic, and Menelaus later makes use of the institution because it is The Constant.
  • Culture Clash: Cmpeting cultures from different eras, all woken at once, result in much of this. Most amusingly done when the relatively-prudish Blue Men interview Oenoe.
  • Doctor's Orders: Menelaus can talk casually with the effective ruler of Earth. When he must be examined by a doctor, he finds it much harder to assert himself.
  • Endless Winter: In Count To A Trillion, Menelaus's first spring is when he is six. The younger characters regard it as this. The older ones hush them: the Japanese created it deliberately, in order to fight a disease, and if they hadn't, mankind might have gone extinct.
  • Ermine Cape Effect: The clothes of the Hermetists use symbolic references to underscore their power.
  • Evolutionary Levels: Used to soothe the conscience, by some characters.
  • Extreme Omnisexual: Nymphs, throughout their culture; those who do not like it are given a chance to cryogenic sleep to a more pleasing time to them.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Lady Ivinia talks of her silence, her obedience, and her gentleness while ordering men about in a long speech, commanding them to fight war and win or commit suicide.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Rada Lwa's justification of his attempted murder of Menelaus. Dropping a satellite on Menelaus was a necessary act because it was the outcome of deorbiting the satellite, which was necessary to stop Menelaus' military control over the world. It was a necessary act, therefore not murder. On the other hand, Menelaus killing De Ulloa was murder because Menelaus actively attempted to cause harm.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Oenoe agreed to something to please her beloved, which is why she is in the Tombs.
  • One Head Taller: Mentally invoked by Menelaus after Princess Rania's growth spurt: "He hated the fact that the top of her head no longer fit nicely under his chin when they hugged... it seemed obscurely unnatural, as if someone had made a mistake when putting the universe together."
  • Ominous Floating Castle: In The Judge of Ages, there is the villain's floating tower which is even described as ominous. It may be the largest one in literature, 165 thousand miles high, and has more surface area than China.
  • Parental Incest: A nymph casually mentions that they expect a man's first sexual partner to have been his mother. The term for "father" also implies a sexual relationship.
  • Pet the Dog: Discussed and subverted. Menelaus at one point concludes that another character can like dogs and still be all bad.
  • Proud Warrior Race: The Chimera. Lampshaded by one of them, who, hearing of the "battle for Antarctica," asks exactly who was fighting for what down there.
  • Reverse Psychology: One character argues with Menelaus as if he wants him to do the opposite.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Menelaus swings between "aw shucks" Texanisms and ultrafluent Lawyerese or Antiquated Linguistics. An alert reader can detect when Menelaus' mind is fully engaged by a problem, because he forgets to maintain his Texanism affectation.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Lady Ivinia explains that this is her place, not councils of war, so she merely "reminds" the men they have a duty to overcome the foe they face or commit suicide for failure.
  • They Have the Scent!: The dog things invert it — by howling with frustration, they show they don't have the scent.
  • Time Abyss: To quote the author, the story will be followed to "the year Oh-My-Gosh-That's-A-Lot-Of-Zeroes".
  • Title Drop: "Counting to a trillion" is a metaphor in the first two books for something true but outside your ability to handle; also how long it will take Rania to return.
  • Unreliable Narrator: In The Hermetic Millennia, large sections are first-person accounts by people who are not to be trusted.
  • Wake Up Fighting: Menelaus coldsleeps with loaded pistols in his hands for this purpose. It doesn't help him much in Hermetic Millennia.
  • Wham Line: In The Architect of Aeons (the last chapter), Menelaus ends up viewing the death of a Transhuman body the size of a whale... then it turns out that this is also Menelaus, and out of nostalgia​ this one kept "their" original brain in a jar (that happens to fall next to the viewpoint Menelaus, allowing him to realize this. And... end of book.

Alternative Title(s): Count To A Trillion, Hermetic Millennia, The Hermetic Millennia